Sunday, November 28, 2010

Overheard at The Agudah Convention!

The Last Time I Was Here The Portions Were This Big!

Now I Have to Go Home And Tell My Mother I Lost Weight This Weekend!

You Know --- I Used To Be Really Happy Coming Here!

Do I Look Like I'm Scared of Mendel Epstein?

That Fat Slob Is Eyeing My Bagels!

Rabbi Perlow Asked Me To Give Over Divrei Chizuk!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"I am distressed that students are taught to belittle the discoveries of science..."

I Thought the Greeks Lost

by Dovid Landesman

For many years, the Torah Umesorah Annual Dinner was scheduled for the week of Chanukah. One year, R. Gedaliah Schorr zt’l, rosh yeshiva of Torah Vodaath, and at the time, the only member of the organization’s Rabbinic Advisory Board who spoke unaccented and fluent English, was invited to give the keynote address. The master of ceremonies, when introducing Rav Schorr, decided to use the opportunity to offer his take on the educational needs of the country. In his lengthy remarks, he challenged Torah Vodaath to open a college and “show how it should be done.” When it was finally his turn to speak, Rav Schorr stood silently at the podium for a moment, a pensive expression on his face. He then turned toward the m.c. with an enormous smile and said: “You know, I was under the impression that we defeated the Greeks!”

The relationship between am Yisrael and Greece has always been somewhat equivocal. Greece is counted as one of the four nations [along with Bavel, Persia and Rome/Edom] who have subjected Israel to exile, yet throughout the period when we were subservient to Greece, we were never physically absent from the land of Israel. Moreover, the initial acceptance of Greek domination was passive. Alexander the Great was crossing Eretz Yisrael on his way to battle the Persians for world domination when Shimon ha-Tzaddik – kohen gadol and leader of the sanhedrin – reached a political agreement with him to insure that Yerushalayim was not “accidentally” destroyed by the Greek legions as they made their way east. The physical conditions of exile under the Greeks were benign until the period of the Chashmonaim when the Jews revolted against their rule; a revolt that was in great part a reaction to the assimilation of Greek values by a significant portion of the Jewish population.

On one hand, Greek culture is seen as particularly depraved. The worship of beauty – especially of the human form – and the emphasis on aesthetics [art and literature] is considered to be the embodiment of the triumph of the physical over the spiritual. The proclivity towards homosexual behavior, the lack of elementary tzniut at public events, the vivid descriptions of intimacy among multiple gods in a series of classic fables – all of these would seem to point to a culture that is the absolute antithesis of Judaism. Thus, it is surprising to find that Greek language is considered to be second only to lashon ha-kodesh in its intrinsic holiness. I would expect that Chazal would have us avoid such cultural assimilation at all cost.

Yaft Elokim l’Yeffet v’yishkon b’ahalei Shem – God granted beauty to Yeffet so that it might dwell in the tents of Shem. The simple explanation would suggest that there is an entire area of Divine wisdom – the beauty of Yeffet – which was made accessible to Shem through the good offices of Yavan [Greece], the scion of Yeffet. Beauty has intrinsic value, for we find Chazal (Shabbat 131a) interpreting the verse zeh keli v’anvehu – this is my God and I shall beautify Him (Shemot 15:2) as indicating that in performing a mitzvah, one should do so in the most aesthetically pleasing manner possible. Given the clear link between the obsession with aesthetics in Greek life and the excesses of Greek culture, one might expect this to be less than important.

In building the mishkan, Moshe was commanded to specifically utilize the craftsmanship of Betzalel because he was blessed with extraordinary artistic talents in a wide variety of fields. Betzalel is considered to be “filled with wisdom” because he knew how to sew, weave and embroider magnificent tapestries – skills that as far as I know, no contemporary yeshiva has ever encouraged! True, these were undoubtedly inherent rather than learned qualities – I would be very surprised to discover that Betzalel had been enrolled as a student of the Ramses School of Design prior to yetziyat Mitzrayim – but they are nevertheless talents that are not usually considered to be part of Torah nor are they – or related fields like music or architecture – part of the yeshiva curriculum.

In general, Judaism does not seem to completely reject the absorption of values from outside sources. Chazal declare chachmah bagoyim, ta’amin – recognize that the nations are in possession of wisdom; i.e., there are valuable fields of knowledge that are accessible without recourse to Torah. This would not a priori mean that these fields of knowledge are unavailable to one who has never been exposed to secular studies. In theory, one could utilize his natural talents and eventually achieve the same results. As far as I know, there is not even an illusion to the healing properties of Vitamin E in Torah shebichtav or sheb’aal peh. Nevertheless, even if I had never been exposed to the scientific process of observation and experimentation through which all pharmacology is established, I could in time determine the medicinal value of Aloe vera on my own. Similarly, the complex nano-technology which allows for the manufacture of microscopic devices is ultimately a result of the scientific process that could theoretically be developed without relying on the instruction of others. Obviously, however, it is more efficient to utilize the publicized findings of others rather than repeat experiments by yourself. But is this determination the totality of what Chazal had in mind when they spoke of chochmah bagoyim?

I would posit that chochmah bagoyim ta’amin means that we should accept that this chochmah is valid even though it comes from non-Torah sources. These fields of knowledge do not depend upon Divinely revealed wisdom accessible only through Torah; they are a byproduct of the Divine gifts of intelligence and creativity with which all mankind was imbued and which everyone can develop to the extent that his potential allows. If you decide that you will ignore scientific breakthroughs because they are not rooted in Torah and instead engage in your own research and experimentation so as to be sure that your life is al taharat ha-kodesh, then know that you will be guilty of a grievous amount of unnecessary bittul Torah.

I am distressed that students are taught to belittle the discoveries of science, claiming that we have no need for it since hafoch bah, hafoch bah, d’kulo bah – study it (Torah), study it, for everything all [knowledge] is in it. I have often heard students – and quite a few rebbis – point to the mathematical and medical genius of the Chazon Ish as proof that there is no need to teach our children a core curriculum of general studies. Glibly, they claim: “Look how much the Chazon Ish knew without ever having gone to college!” My invariable reply is that the Chazon Ish also achieved an incredible level of mastery in all fields of Torah despite [or perhaps because of] the fact that he never attended a yeshiva!

There is another factor that needs to be analyzed when considering the extent of general knowledge to which one allows himself to be exposed. Our ability to efficiently utilize the wisdom of the scientific process is dependent upon a basic familiarity with the fundamentals of math, science, and foreign languages augmented by reading comprehension and writing proficiency. Most of these areas of knowledge are not included in the basic cheder curriculum in Eretz Yisrael. I wonder whether the excesses that the scientific method is judged to have brought to society have led to a rejection of the notion that there still is wisdom among the goyim.

Casey Stengel once wisely commented that “nostalgia aint what it used to be.” Nonetheless, I think that it is worthwhile to look back and see if we can determine why the yeshivot a few decades ago were apparently more successful in producing talmidim who saw no contradiction in straddling the divide between Torah study and general education.

Forty or fifty years ago, parents expected the yeshivot – at least the non-chassidic mosdot – to provide their children with a decent secular education, for the majority of them intended that their sons continue with professional studies after they graduated high school. To be sure there were a number of students who did not do so – if I recall correctly, approximately 30% of the beit midrash bachurim in Torah Vodaath did not attend college – but as a general rule, this was the expected path.

For the most part, talmidim learned two sedarim in the yeshiva and then attended college from about 5:30-10:30 two or four nights a week. Many then continued onto graduate studies in a variety of fields, including law, accounting, business, medicine, engineering, psychology and the sciences. For the most part, and there were of course exceptions, they remained bnei Torah and have built homes that are paradigms of Torah and chessed. I would say without hesitation that in the overwhelming majority of cases, their homes are more strictly observant than those of their parents. Their immersion in the world of general knowledge did not erode their level of observance.

Did Rav Schorr see them as casualties of Greek culture? I obviously cannot speak for him, but can only convey the impressions I have based on what I heard from him. Rav Schorr also served as head of Beit Medrash Elyon in Spring Valley – which was a parallel institution to Lakewood – but he made the bachurim in Torah Vodaath feel that we were no less bnei Torah than the students there. He stressed that the primary responsibility we had was to establish our own identity as bnei Torah. Some talmidim learned all day, others learned less while still others were kovea itim for a defined period based on the time they had. But we were all equal, for Torah was the mirror which we looked at when we wanted to see our image.

The yeshivot – and roshei yeshivot – were able to convey to the talmidim a sense of proportion. General knowledge was never glorified but neither was it disparaged. The atmosphere in the yeshiva’s beit midrash was eclectic; one year my morning seder chavruta was the son [and eventual successor to] a prominent chassidic rebbe while my afternoon chavruta was destined to become the chairman of the psychology department at a well known local university. While the latter did not wear the same garb as the former, there was very little difference in their world views. The fact that they chose different “career” paths did not translate itself into a parting of their ways. The talmidim felt that we shared a similar commitment to Torah despite our diverse backgrounds and aspirations which created a ruach within the yeshiva that helped us when we were outside its doors.

Certain behaviors were considered to be “conduct unbecoming” a Torah Vodaath boy and this self-imposed and accepted code was a great source of support during the times we found ourselves on the college campus. We did not need a va’ad harabbanim to set these standards for us; the roshei yeshiva – especially Rav Schorr and Rav Pam zt’l – made us feel that they trusted us to do what was right. Perhaps the atmosphere on college campuses was somewhat less hostile than it is today. Personally, I doubt that the yetzer hara is stronger than it was then; it is the methodology that has changed.

Today a bachur who leaves the beit midrash to study or work is burdened by a sense of guilt; either because he is led to feel that he must be a failure because he does not have sufficient motivation to continue or because he lacks the mesirat nefesh (or deep pockets) to survive the economic rough spots. That leaves him with few choices. He can either plod on and increase his discomfort and sense of frustration, masking it behind a false sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, or he can break away – partially or completely. Without a sense of accomplishment or identification with the yeshiva, the student seeks those signs of success in the world of general studies. This is an unnecessary tragedy that is the basic ingredient that allows the contemporary Greeks their victory. Rejected in his own world, he seeks acceptance and recognition elsewhere.

At what point does a focus on the absorption of general knowledge and culture lead us to the point, in Rav Schorr’s words, of providing the Greeks with a belated victory and at what point does it fit into the rubric of chachmah bagoyim ta’amin? Can we establish a quantifiable amount of general knowledge desirable or is it a moving target that depends upon the era and location of the community? At what point do we risk becoming assimilated rather than acculturated?
I’m not sure whether there are clear parameters that can be drawn. In one community in which I lived one of the local roshei yeshiva would prepare his shiurim while listening to Bach and Beethoven. I doubt that the people there would have been as understanding if he had done so to the music of the Beatles. Unquestionably lines have to be drawn; just as there are chochmot that we can draw upon to enhance our Jewish lives, there are those that can be misused and become destructive and dangerous. The trick, and challenge, is to develop the skills to differentiate between them.

The Greeks succeeded because they were able to convince the Jews that adherence to Torat Moshe was primitive and uncultured. The contemporary fallout from the yeshivot suffer from a similar damaged self-image. Distanced for many reasons from the spiritual light of Torah – as expressed by commitment to Torah study – which they cannot appreciate and which brings them little satisfaction, they are easy victims for seduction by the neon lights of the outside world. The antidote, however, is not to lock them behind high walls and deny them the benefits of general knowledge; that would be self-defeating as well as increasingly unfeasible in a technology driven world.

At the very least schools, mechanchim, mechanchot as well as parents must be sure to reinforce the sense of self-worth of each and every talmid – reassuring them that they all have their own portion in Torah – portions that are of equal import provided that they are the paths that are right for each child’s potential and ability. Chanoch lanoar al pi darko – instruct the child according to his path – based on the road that he can follow, not on a one size fits all course of study. For some students that might be defined as spending years in a kollel mastering many blatt gemara, for others it might be applying the lessons of Choshen Mishpat that they have been taught in yeshiva in their businesses or medical practices. Yaft Elokim l’Yeffet – the outside world has considerable beauty. It can be threatening when glorified as an end unto itself or it can be enriching when it is properly brought l’ohalei Shem – to dwell within the tents of Shem.

[Rabbi Dovid Landesman resides in Ramat Beit Shemesh where he comments on the foibles of life in Israel. His collection of essays, There Are No Basketball Courts in Heaven is available in Jewish bookstores and his new book, Food for Thought – No Hechsher Required, will be published b’ezrat Hashem this winter.]

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Missing Yemenite Children

The UOJ Archives - November 2005

The Missing Yemenite Children
Words of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Shneerson - The Lubavitcher Rebbe.

by Yechiel A. Mann,
Eshhar, Israel.

As expected, different people reacted to this issue of stolen Jewish infants in the Land of Israel. One such reaction came from the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menechem Mendel Shneerson, in his book, "Hitvaaduyot", written around 1987-88.

To quote from his writings:
"On the matter of the kidnapping of children from their parents in order to educate them not in the way of the Torah.

"It is well known what happened thirty to forty years ago during the Aliyah [immigration] of children from Yemen and Teheran [Teheran, the capital of Iran. It seems that he, too, was unaware of the many different communities from which the children were stolen] to the Holy Land.

"Small children, who came with their parents to the Holy Land, were suddenly taken away from their parents, who were given strange and unfounded reasons for this, such as the need for medical treatment, and that their children were in bad shape. These explanations continued, until the parents were told that their children had died . . . . And all this for the simple reason that they (the authorities) did not want them to be educated by their parents, who kept Torah and Mitzvot (commandments), but wanted to educate them as they wished, in a way totally devoid of any connection with their Jewish heritage! For this purpose - children were stolen from their parents!!"

What Rabbi Shneerson wrote then was based on the fact that when many religious Jewish men and women immigrated to Israel, there were people in authority that thought that religion was not what the country needed in its first days. Certain actions were taken by these authorities, such as shaving the beards of new immigrants and cutting off their side curls. Not to mention all the Torah Scrolls, Holy Books, and many other possessions taken from the Jewish immigrants back then. Although this explanation is accepted by some, others do not accept this as a possible reason for the kidnapping of children, since so many of these children were sold abroad for profit.

Rabbi Schneerson continues:
"And who was at the time one of those in charge - a Jew who puts on Tefilin (phylacteries) [Another Religious Jewish custom] and prays three times a day, and who in his private life, observes Torah and Mitzvot.

And nevertheless, not only did he not prevent this from happening, he cooperated, and was even amongst those who were in charge of the people who committed this terrible crime!"

Here, Rabbi Shneerson was referring to Rabbi Dr. Issachar Dov Bernard Bergman. When people started an outcry, as to how this could possibly have happened, for it is an act that is the complete opposite of all that is just and right, and the complete opposite of humane behavior, they were told: 'We saved them from death and gave them a new life, therefore it is as though these children belong to us . . . .'

"And not only did they behave with the children as a man would behave with his "Canaanite servant" [In other words, a slave] who "belonged" to him, but even worse. They treated the children as an object that was their own private posession, that could, if they so wished, be burnt - where in this matter, the burning was of the children's soul and not of their body, Heaven forbid. [What Rabbi Shneerson says here conflicts with reports of children that know they have been sold in this fashion, when they were children. In these reports, most of the people report that they were raised with love and care, as if they were the real children of their adopting parents].

"During that period, hundreds of small children disappeared without a trace, and until this very day, the parents do not know what was the fate of their children, and where they are today."

Rabbi Shneerson mentions hundreds of children, although the number of such occurrences is now known to be in the thousands.

"Today, after thirty to forty years, it is still possible to trace these children, for the same offices that dealt with the children then have exact lists that contain the names of all the children, where they were sent to, etc. The trouble is that noone wants to give out the lists of the names of the children!"

As for the lists of the children's names, not everyone accepts the idea that there are lists of the names of the original families of the children, as so many of them were said to be stolen without the kidnappers even caring who the original parents were. Why should they? It is also commonly believed that, considering all the forged and "confused" documents, there are no real documents. Also, there are those who believe that real documents did exist until Ami Chovav, the investigator mentioned in Part Six, "took care" of the records, as Chovav worked in the national archives, following his investigation. He was quoted in "Haaretz" as saying:

"After the Shalgi committee, all the material was in a mess. The committee finished its job, but none of the documents were catalogued in order, in the archives. The main archive manager asked me to organize all the material, of both investigation committees, in order for the archives. So I sat in the archives, and organized the material, until the order was given to hand the material over to the current (Cohen) committee".

Of course, there are also those who believe that the documents do exist, some say in a certain safe, in Jerusalem. An article in the "Makor Rishon" newspaper, written by Journalist Pini Ben-Or, describes these suspicions.

To quote the article:
"In these days, when in many countries in the world adoption of children occurs, and adoption certificates are issued, there was no way found in Israel to try and help find children that have disappeared. Even the adopted people themselves are faced with many difficulties in finding their biological parents. Today, the belief is getting stronger that thousands of children disappeared, and were stolen from their parents in the first years of the existence of the State of Israel. 'Makor Rishon', which is following the stolen children issue, has checked on the other possibility. The best kept secret in the country - the safe of Mr. George Klein.

"George Klein is the manager of the archives, belonging to the Ministry of Interior, where appear the records of all the people that are removed from the population records: People who have died, been adopted, left the country, and so on.

"From one investigation protocol of George Klein, from the 16th of September, 1997, it is seen that, in his archives, there is a safe where all the adoption records, ever since the British Mandate in Israel, are kept.

"In his questioning in front of the committee for investigating the disappearance of these children, George Klein said that only he has access to the safe, which is located in a safety room. He received the adoption orders, as well as the original personal file of the adopted child, from the bureau of the Ministry of Interior. The material is placed in the safe, and the child receives a new birth certificate, where the names of the adopting parents are found.

According to Klein, he writes the original I.D. number of the child, in the adoption book.

"After writing the details, Klein has the information updated. The original birth certificate, along with the adoption certificate, are placed in an envelope, that is filed in the safe, in the safety room.

Anyone looking in the adoption book only sees the new details of the adopted person, but adding up the new details and what is written in the envelopes that contain the old details - will reveal who the adopted person is.

"The biggest secret is in the hands and safe of George Klein. Maybe there, an answer to the issue of the missing children can be found."

Since that article was written, it has been rumored that the safe has been moved, although not everyone believes that. Again, it is commonly believed that records of which children went where do not even exist. Although, it is possible that details of a certain number of the missing children can be found there.

To return to the writings of Rabbi Shneerson:
"And the even greater trouble is - that noone gets up to speak of it!

"Lately, a few people have woken up and begun to ask for the lists of the children but unfortunately, this was but 'the sound of the tune of defeat', and nothing came of it.

"And not only this, but as always, there are those who immediately make a 'mockery' out of everything, and they made a mockery out of this request too! . . . . And we know that one should not talk with scoffers, and even not sit in their company, as king David said at the beginning of the Book of Psalms - 'Happy is the man that hath not walked in the counsel of the wicked . . . . Nor sat in the seat of the scornful.' (Psalms 1:1) Our sages have already told us that a 'Cult of Scoffers' is one of the four cults that 'do not receive the Divine Presence'.

"However, this claim also has no place in the discussion. For, although it might be very hard work, nevertheless, in no situation is one allowed to despair of a Jew, and noone can take the responsibility to say that, as far as so and so is concerned, nothing can be done to bring him closer to Torah and Judaism."

Here again, it is evident that Rabbi Shneerson believed that these children were stolen to keep them away from Judaism, and Torah.

"And, in any case, as long as not everything possible is being done to correct the situation - it is as though the crime is continuously being committed! Obviously in this matter, doing Teshuvah (repentance) will not help - for Teshuvah is between man and his Master - and so above all, what must be done is to correct the injustice and the crime that was committed against both the children and their parents!

"After all this, if anyone thinks that they (the authorities), regret their past deeds, and certainly will not repeat them, God forbid, 'Trouble shall not rise up the second time' (as said in Nachum, 1:9), they are making a bitter mistake.

"Not only do they not show any remorse, and are not even trying to return the situation to its rightful state, but on the contrary - until this very day, they are repeating what they did (to the children stolen back then) with the children of Teheran [Iranian Jewish immigrants], and in a more acute way, and no one is standing up to be heard, and let the world know. And especially those who are meant to represent, so to speak, the demands of the Charedi (ultra-Orthodox) Judaism - even they are sitting quietly and doing nothing at all!

"It is the holy obligation of anyone who has it in his powers to do whatever they can to prevent and to stop the stealing of children that is currently happening, and in addition, to try and correct what was done in the past.

"And those who cannot do anything, as far as this matter is concerned, should increase their activities in the field of education.

In other words, try and ensure that all Jewish children receive a Jewish education that is in the spirit of the Torah, and no effort should be spared (just as no effort is spared by those opposing the matter), for one is talking about Pikuach Nefashot (the saving of endangered lives)!

"To what can this be compared? To a man who sees a house burning - he surely will not spare any effort to try and save the people who are in the house. Not only that, but even if he is unsure if there is anyone in the house, he will knock on the blinds and the windows, etc., to check if there is anyone in the house, who can be saved. And the moral of the example is an endangered spiritual life.

"Remember: 'And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death' (Exodus, 21:16).

And his death, according to the Halachah [Jewish law, as set by the Rabbis . . . although there are many laws in Halachah, such as this, that are not enforced in these days], is by strangulation."

This is what the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menacham Mendel Shneerson, has written about the issue of the stolen children. Apparently, Rabbi Shneerson, as well, knew what went on. According to him and others, such things are still happening, although, as many say, on a much smaller scale.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

"Don't Ask Don't Tell" - Theme of Agudah Convention 2010!

By a contributing editor to NACGMBLAA ( National Association of Circumcized Girly Man Boy Losers At Agudah)

As advertised in the Yated Ne’eman this year’s convention will focus on major issues that are pressing in Klal Yisroel regarding our children. We have publicized the questions that will be addressed, but have not yet given any kind of glimpse at the answers that our Gedolim have “divined”. The following are the questions advertised, with a sneak peek at the solutions that the convention will provide us, based on inside knowledge from someone who was at the last meeting of the Moetzes:

1. How can parents and mechanchim work together to help our youth confront unprecedented challenges?

a) Challenge number one: Internet, cell phones, text messages, CDs, DVDs and MBDs. These are horrors that our parents never had to face. Agudas Yisroel is proud to announce a new campaign: Rabbi Gedalia Weinberger, Shli”ta and Rabbi Abe Biderman, Shli”ta have teamed up under the leadership of Moreinu Harav Avraham Chaim Levine, Shl”ita to invest new resources into providing schools and homes with metal detectors to keep out these challenging infiltrations of modern technology.

b) Another big challenge that parents and mechanchim face is the continued struggle to silence the children who claim they are molested. Those who come up with the exaggerated “tawdry tales” of being sexually abused without even at least being penetrated! In the words of Rabbi Yaakov Horowitz, Shli”ta of Aguda’s Project YES: “Lma’an Hashem!” We have warned them that they won’t get shidduchim, we warned their parents that all their other children will be thrown out of yeshivas, and we have told them that they are breaking the issur of mesirah, the worst sin of all, if they go to the cops. But still there are those cowardly and weak children who cannot withstand the challenge of keeping their mouths shut and have fallen victim to the temptation to cry out for help. Moreinu Harav Matisyahu Salmon, Shli”ta and Moreinu Harav Malkiel Kotler, Shli”ta will explain to us how their community in Lakewood even had a family’s house burned down for daring to talk about their son who died after being molested, just to “send them a message,” and how they ran a family out of town to Detroit for daring to go to the police. But it is not enough. We must use the same devious methods as the molesters themselves to “groom” the families into trusting us. Moreinu Harav Shmuel Kaminetsky, Shli”ta will explain how he has personally covered up for Yudi Kolko, Moshe Eisemann, Chaim Abrahamson, Shmuel Levitt, Yossef Ahron Kolko and many, many others, while telling victims that they have a mitzvah to reveal their molesters. This trick lets us know who the loudmouths are so they too can be run out of town.

c) The biggest challenge is really for us, the parents and mechanchim. Mishpacha Magazine recently described the newest problem we face: Kids who look the part of good yeshiva boys and bais yaakov girls, but who use drugs, go on the Internet on Shabbos and ignore halacha totally. This is sooooo confusing. We yearn for the days of old, when the off-the-derech boy would grow his hair long, and the off-the-derech girls would dress not tznius, and they would both get tattoos and body piercings. How are we supposed to know which kids to disown? We have no choice but to utilize crime prevention techniques, like giving our children polygraphs and forensic evaluations, to screen out the dangerous ones and protect the innocent.

2. How can we ensure the fiscal viability of our embattled yeshivos?

Some may think that this question is kefirah because only Hashem can make such assurances. Nonsense. It is up to our Gedolim, Shli”ta to divine His will and to keep our sinking enterprise alive by any means necessary. So:

a) We will hear from Nat Lewin, Shli”ta and Pinny Lipshutz, Shli”ta about gathering gantz Klal Yisroel together to defend a white collar criminal, in order to show the Feds that despite the setback of Moreinu the Spinker Rebbe, Shli”ta, they cannot stop us from doing what we need to do to support our family businesses – the yeshivas. We will defend even violent criminals like convicted cop-killer Martin Grossman Z”TL for the same reason. If the government were to think we are weak, they could come after our yeshivas and put an end to money laundering, tax evasion and fraudulent government grants. This, we cannot afford.

b) It’s the tuition stupid! We must sock it to the parents continuing to instruct them to have more children than they can afford so we can hit them up for more tuition and line our pockets with their hard earned money.

c) For those who are getting tired of supporting yeshivos, Agudah has decided to offer an incentive that no self-respecting follower of Daas Torah could refuse. For every financial supporter of our yeshivas we will now have personalized letters of guarantee from the Gedolim of Eretz Yisroel that they will win the lottery, that their children will also win the lottery, and that they will do shidduchim with other people who will also win the lottery.

3. Is educational elitism “pushing” some of our children through the cracks?

The short answer is yes, it is. B”H our yeshivas and bais yaakovs have inculcated an attitude of disdain for anyone who is in any way religiously inferior, and by promoting a kollel lifestyle that cannot possibly work for most people, and educational standards that few can even think about achieving. But we can do better. There are still “undesirable” kids left in our schools. There are high school bais yaakov girls who are willing to marry a so called “working boy”. B’avonoseinu Harabbim, there are schools in Lakewood "ir hakodesh" that have started introducing secular education on the high school level for the purpose of creating adults who can function in the so-called “real world,” not having to resort to a life of dependence on government programs and “genaivishe shtick.” This is unacceptable. Moreinu Harav Ahron Feldman, Shli”ta will inspire the olam with his brilliant analysis of how the chinuch in Eretz Yisroel which does not allow such “bittul zman” must be instituted here, if we are to survive. Our schools must “push” ALL "deviant" children through the cracks so we can succeed in our mission as an Am Hatorah led by Daas Torah divined by Gedolei Torah, and financed by people who are Machshiv Torah.

4. How can we better help our youth forge a meaningful connection with their Yiddishkeit?

First of all, just because some Baalei Teshuvah have started using this term “meaningful” when for thousands of years we used to wish each other simply an “easy fast” before Yom Kippur, does not in any way mean that this concept is a kosher one. In fact, it is quite “New Age,” and Shlomo Carlebachy. “Meaningfulness” is not an authentic Daas Torah word or expression. Rabbi Avi Shafran, Shli”ta will lecture on the dangers of allowing children to question what they are taught, to think critically, or to, chas v’shalom, express even the slightest amount of individuality, and why we must brainwash them into conforming into mindless robots. Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zweibel, Shli”ta will address the radical departure from our Mesorah “presumptuously promoted” in books like Rabbi Slifkin’s, and “The Making of a Gadol”. A panel discussion about finding the true meaning of Yiddishkeit for Jewish girls and women will be co-chaired by Rabbi Leib Tropper, Shli”ta and Rabbi Mordechai Tendler, Shli”ta.

5. Are we doing enough to protect our children from outside influences and dangerous people?

This is complicated. Some think that by dangerous people we mean people like our very own Moreinu Harav Ahron Shechter, Shli”ta, who tells parents to send their “bad” kids to abusive “boot camps” in Jamaica, Moreinu Harav Moshe Eisemann, Shli”ta, who enjoys massaging the behinds of young bochurim, and Moreinu Harav Lipa Margulies, Shli”ta who allows predator pedophiles access to children in the classrooms of his yeshiva. But no, these are the “good guys!”

We are referring to the real dangerous individuals. We have already banned Lipa Shmeltzer, because his concerts can lead to mixed seating, mixed dancing and eventually getting married and sending your kids to modern orthodox schools, rachmana litzlan. But we need to do more to protect our kids from bloggers like UOJ, and child advocates like Rabbi Nochum Rosenberg and Dr. Asher Lipner and Mark Mayer Appel who fill their heads with ideas that are very, very dangerous for us, because they show them how hypocritical and immoral we are. And to this we must regretfully say that the answer is no, we are not doing enough. With Hashem’s help, we “outed” UOJ, really showing him who is boss, and Moreinu the Novominsker Rebbe, Shli”ta has publicly denounced the advocates. But there is much more to be done to protect our children from these people who are so dangerous to the Agudah. On a scale of 1 to 10, we are only at a one, or at most, a one and a half.

In addition to the important message included in these presentations, we will also, I”YH, be showing via a live video hook-up a special presentation from Eretz Yisroel. Rabbi Dr. Avraham Mondrowitz, Shli”ta will give a drasha, on how best to give love to children. We will also feature at the convention Rabbi Yudi Kolko, Shli”ta on how to get the most out of the rebbe - talmid relationship, and Rabbi Weingarten, Shli”ta another former rebbe at Yeshiva Torah Temima, on how fathers can instill real kibbud av in your daughters and get them to fulfill all of your earthly desires. Moreinu Harav Reuvain (EJF) Feinstein, Shli”ta will introduce his nephews, Rabbi Ahron and Mordecai Tendler Shli”ta, who will speak on “Chinuch Habanos: Preparing teen-age girls for marriage – a hands-on approach.” The Tendlers will introduce their uncle Rabbi Sholom Tendler, Vice President of the RCC of California - "When Sleeping With The Women You Give Counsel To - Actually Helps Their Marriage"! He will demonstrate via videos the technique that he uses, and the various mitzvas involved! A video you do not want to miss!

Finally, we want to remind you of our catchy theme for our convention: “For the sake of our precious vulnerable youth, our beautiful and sweet children, our seductive Lolitas, our innocent young boys... Don't Ask Don't Tell!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Dangerous Leaders - No Substance Just Big Mouths & Empty Rhetoric!


Why Obama Is No Roosevelt

Roosevelt: 'Your government has unmistakable confidence in your ability to hear the worst without flinching and losing heart.' Obama: We don't 'always think clearly when we're scared.


Whatever the outcome of today's election, this much is clear: It will be a long time before Americans ever again decide that the leadership of the nation should go to a legislator of negligible experience—with a voting record, as state and U.S. senator, consisting largely of "present," and an election platform based on glowing promises of transcendence. A platform vowing, unforgettably, to restore us—a country lost to arrogance and crimes against humanity—to a place of respect in the world.

We would win back our allies who, so far as we knew, hadn't been lost anywhere. Though once Mr. Obama was elected and began dissing them with returned Churchill busts and airy claims of ignorance about the existence of any special relationship between the United States and Great Britain, the British, at least, have been feeling less like pals of old.

In the nearly 24 months since Mr. Obama's election, popular enthusiasm for him has gone the way of his famous speeches—lyrical, inspired and unburdened by the weight of concrete thought.

About the ingratitude of Democratic voters the president brooded in a September Rolling Stone interview. "If people now want to take their ball and go home," he declared, "that tells me folks weren't serious in the first place." His vice president, Joe Biden, had a few days earlier contributed his own distinctive effort to seduce Democrats back to the fold by telling them to "stop whining."

The results of this charm campaign remain to be seen. What's clear now is that we've heard quite enough about the "angry electorate"—a peculiarly reductive view of citizens who've managed to read all the signs and detect an administration they were not prepared to live with.

Nothing wakened their instincts more than the administration's insistence on its health-care bill—its whiff of totalitarian will, its secretiveness, its display of cold assurance that the new president's social agenda trumped everything.

But it was about far more than health-care reform, or joblessness, or the great ideological divide between the president and the rest of the country. It was about an accumulation of facts quietly taken in that told Americans that the man they had sent to the White House had neither the character or the capacity to lead the country.

Their president was the toast of Europe, masterful before the adoring crowds—but one who had remarkably soon proved unable to inspire, in citizens at home, any belief that he was a leader they could trust. Or one who trusted them or their instincts. His Democratic voters were unhappy? They, and their limited capacities, were to blame.

These are conspicuous breaks in the armor of civility and charm that candidate Obama once showed—and those breaks are multiplying.

At a Democratic fund-raiser a few weeks ago, the president noted, in explanation for the Democrats' lack of enthusiasm, that facts and science and argument aren't winning the day because "we're hard-wired not to always think clearly when we're scared." The suggestion was clear: The Democrats' growing resistance to his policies was a product of the public's lack of intellectual capacity and their fears.

Decades ago another president directly addressed Americans in a time of far greater peril. "Your government has unmistakable confidence in your ability to hear the worst without flinching and losing heart," Franklin Roosevelt told his national audience. The occasion was a fireside chat delivered Feb. 23, 1942. No radio address then or since has ever imparted a presidential message so remarkable in its detail, complexity and faith in its audience.

It was delivered just a few months after Pearl Harbor, a time when the Allied cause looked bleakest. It would be known to history as "The Map Speech." The president had asked Americans to have a map at hand, "to follow with me the references I shall make to the world- encircling battle lines of this war." He took them through those lines, the status of battles around the globe, the enemy's objectives, centers of raw material and far more. By the time they had finished poring over their maps with him they had had a considerable education.

It is impossible to imagine what might have been the effect if the current president, who is regularly compared to FDR—always a source of amazement—had tried anything like a detailed address explaining, say, the new health-care bill. Though this would have required knowledge of what was actually in the bill (a likely problem) and a readiness to share that news (an even greater one).

Despite the ongoing work of legions grinding out endless new and improved proofs that FDR was a despoiler of democracy and our economic system, it is worth remembering the reason virtually all serious historians rank him among the top three of our greatest presidents.

Franklin Roosevelt led the nation through 12 years begun in incomparable national misery virtually to the end of the war. When he died, an anguished country mourned as it had not done since the death of Lincoln. Americans trusted him. The story is told of a man found weeping when Roosevelt's funeral train went past, who was asked if he had known the president. "I didn't know him," he replied. "But he knew me."

The times are now vastly different—no one expects a candidate with the powers of an FDR these days. But the requirements of leadership don't change. Despite charm and intellect, Americans have never been able to see in Mr. Obama a president who spoke to them and for them. He has been their lecturer-in-chief, a planner of programs for his vision of a new and progressive society.

Plenty of suggestions, none of them feasible, are in the air now about how he can reposition himself for 2012, and move to the center. Mr. Obama is who he is: a man of deep-dyed ideological inclinations, with a persona to match. And that isn't going away.

The Democrats may not take a complete battering in the current contest, but there is no doubt of the problems ahead. This election has everything to do with the man in the White House about whom Americans have lost their illusions. Illusions matter. Their loss is irrecoverable.

Ms. Rabinowitz is a member of the Journal's editorial board.